The do's & don'ts post London Marathon
5 Golden Rules for Marathon Recovery
Recovery after a marathon is not only one of the most important aspects of running a marathon, but it’s also unfortunately one of the most undervalued.
If you resume your training post-marathon with structural, fascial and metabolic issues, you’re setting yourself up for problems in the coming months. Recovery after a Marathon run is crucial.
5 Golden Rules for Marathon Recovery
Marathon Recovery Rule 1: Take a Shower
Soon after the race you should take a contrast shower. What is a contrast shower? Alternate between cold water and hot water on your legs—one minute hot, then one minute cold. The cold water causes vasoconstriction (i.e. blood vessels close and get smaller) of the blood vessels in your legs, while the hot water causes vasodilation (i.e. blood vessels open and get bigger). This oscillation between the vessels closing and opening helps rush oxygen-rich blood to your legs. You could also try an ice bath or Epsom salt bath to help repair have millions of micro-tears accumulated during a marathon.
Marathon Recovery Rule 2: Eat Protein, Sleep, Then Get Moving
After your contrast shower, have a nice protein and carb-rich low fat meal, stick with small portions more often. Then, get a good night’s sleep. The day after the marathon, get moving! Sounds bizarre after completing 26.2 miles but you’ve got to do something to get blood moving in your legs to help facilitate the healing process.
Marathon Recovery Rule 3: Invest in Your Recovery
The next step you should consider following the marathon is to invest a little money in yourself. Visit an Active Release Technique (ART) therapist or at least a physiotherapist for a couple of treatments. Because in the final miles of a well-run marathon, there is undoubtedly a breakdown in your biomechanics, and that breakdown means that you’re asking more of one muscle group or more of one side of your body than the other. Simply put, you’re likely to become asymmetric when you finish the marathon, and you need someone who can help you gain back that symmetry and take care of any little injuries you may have incurred during the race.
Marathon Recovery Rule 4: Cross-Train Before You Resume Running
Recovery from a marathon has long been thought of as: Take X number of days off, then start running again. But, a new model for marathon recovery values the healing power of getting oxygen-rich blood to damaged muscle tissue. One way to do this is to swim or aqua jog, light GSM (General Strength and Mobility) training. Any is good because you simply move some blood around the body, and speed up the healing time of the cellular damage that occurred in your leg muscles during the race.
Marathon Recovery Rule 5: Get Stronger Before You Start Training Again
Following a marathon you should spend some time focusing on non- running training. General Strength and Mobility (GSM) training takes priority in post marathon training to help muscle recovery and to help you to get stronger for your next run. Post-marathon GSM practice proves beneficial because every runner has weaknesses, often with their minor muscle groups, and this work helps strengthen those areas. The reason to do GSM work is to stay injury-free, which will allow you to run more miles and more intense workouts.
Don’ts of Marathon Recovery:
Don’t Get a Post-Race Massage
You shouldn’t get that complimentary deep-tissue massage offered at the end of the race.
Your muscles are completely broken down at this point and are actually bleeding. The last thing you want is to have someone working their hands into them, increasing blood flow to the area.
Instead, wait one to three days and stay away from deep-tissue work at first. Massages with light strokes are ideal. Also consider getting warmed up beforehand with heating pads or a bath. The same thing applies with cool-down stretching: It’s best to wait until the next day when your muscles aren’t as inflamed, then ease into it slowly.
Don’t Go Out For a Victory Meal
Finishing a marathon is one of those bucket list life events that gives you free reign to eat whatever you want in massive quantities.
But even if you’re feeling pretty good after your marathon (and ready to reward yourself for your hard work), your body will not be capable of breaking down a large amount of food and will be forced to expel it in one way or another. Stick to small snacks for the rest of the day, which will allow your body to digest everything it needs and use those nutrients to start you down the road to recovery.
Don’t Ignore Your Immune System
When marathoners cross the finish line and start evaluating the damage, they’re likely thinking about their muscles and joints. Chances are they aren’t thinking about their immune system. However the old fashioned immune system is actually one of the hardest hit parts of your body post-marathon. You are much more susceptible to illness after running for 26.2 miles. Make it a point to get in a little extra fruit for the next few days, specifically any rich in Vitamin C, like oranges and grapefruit.
Congratulations to anyone who completed the London Marathon on Sunday, what an incredible life achievement. We hope these do’s and don’ts are helpful in your recovery!